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The Torah

Walking Through Cloud (Parshat Acharei Mot/Kedoshim, Leviticus 16:1-20:27)

Erica Brown | Posted 04.30.2015 | Religion
Erica Brown

When Moses finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it and the presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

Leprosy's Haunting Relevance (Parshat Tazria-Metzora, Leviticus 12:1-15:33)

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg | Posted 04.20.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

Even after we are healed, the experience of serious illness seriously transforms us, and the Torah's seemingly arcane rituals serve as a timeless reminder of the steps on that transforming journey.

Revisiting the Holy and the Ordinary (Parshat Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer | Posted 04.16.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer

This week's Torah portion includes, in the words of anthropologist Mary Douglas, a "hoary old puzzle from biblical scholarship." As Douglas put it, "Why should some locusts, but not all, be unclean?

Getting Unstuck (Second Shabbat of Passover, April 11, 2015)

Rabbi David Jaffe | Posted 04.07.2015 | Religion
Rabbi David Jaffe

Passover is the holiday of getting unstuck. The Israelites lived in slavery for hundreds of years in Egypt, completed dominated by Pharoah and his regime. But the message of the biblical Exodus is that what is, now, does not have to be what is in the future.

Behold, the Table Is Set (First Shabbat of Passover, April 4, 2015)

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin | Posted 04.07.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin

It was not the assumption of different gender roles per se that I found disturbing. One could argue that such expectations were well-negotiated over centuries. It was the invisibility that irked, the taking-for-grantedness of the contribution of women to the sacred home enterprise.

Making Meaning of the Ashes in Our Lives (Parshat Tzav, Leviticus 6:1-8:36)

Rabbi Asher Lopatin | Posted 03.26.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Asher Lopatin

These ashes are much like the things in life that didn't work out the way we intended them, the fallout of the unsavory things we have done that we wish we would never do. Sometimes no one else sees these burnt pieces of our lives.

The Importance of 'Calling' (Parshat Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1-5:26/Shabbat haHodesh)

Rabbi Marc Baker | Posted 03.19.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Marc Baker

We live in a busy, noisy world of multi-media overload, fast-paced online communication, and expectations of increased personal and professional productivity. Technology and social media have revolutionized how we communicate with and what we expect of one another.

Building Devotion (Parshat Vayakhel/Pekudei, Exodus 35:1-40:38)

Ariel Mayse | Posted 03.12.2015 | Religion
Ariel Mayse

Judaism is often described as a religion of law, an identity that it shares with Islam. But it is perhaps more accurate to consider Judaism as a religion defined by its commitment to embodied practice and experience.

More Than One Thing: Purim and Reflections of the Image of God (Parshat Ki Tissa, Exodus 30:11 - 34:35 ; Purim, March 4-5)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 03.04.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Megillat Esther, which we read on the holiday of Purim this week, is a flamboyant, even farcical tale of good and evil. Its characters on the face of it are caricatures of human virtue and vice: Achashueras the foolish king who sits on the throne but exercises no true leadership or authority.

Remembering the Future: Memories of the Heart (Parashat Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10/Shabbat Zachor)

Reb Mimi Feigelson | Posted 04.26.2015 | Religion
Reb Mimi Feigelson

This Shabbat, the weekly Torah portion embraces the consecration of the priesthood to God, and the special designated Torah reading for the Shabbat prior to Purim, known as Shabbat Zachor, commands us to remember/not forget our encounter with Amalek, who sought to destroy us.

Compulsory Love: What the Building of the Tabernacle Can Teach Us About Valentine's Day (Parshat Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19)

Rabbi Joshua Ratner | Posted 04.20.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Ratner

The main reason I resist it is that I reject the very premise of the holiday: choosing an arbitrary time for the compulsory enunciation and celebration of love. After all, do I love my spouse, my mother, and other family members any more on February 14 than I do the other days of the year?

Is Law a Kind of Love? (Parshat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1 - 24:18)

Rabbi Joshua Stanton | Posted 04.13.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Joshua Stanton

This week's Torah portion, Mishpatim, comes on the heels of the Ten Commandments and begins delving into more detailed prescriptions for our actions. In some cases, its behavioral requirements seem immediately accessible and relevant.

Religion and the Enemy (Parshat B'Shalach, Exodus 13:17-17:16)

Rabbi Amy Eilberg | Posted 03.30.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Common wisdom has it that much violence in the world is driven by religious passion. Though there is good reason for this claim, deeper reflection reveals a more complex picture of what religions have to say about relationships with the enemy.

Power, Oppression and the Hardened Heart (Parshat Bo, Exodus 10:1-13:16)

Rabbi Adina Allen | Posted 03.23.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Adina Allen

The hardening of Pharaoh's heart is one of the most confusing aspects of the Exodus story, but has perhaps the most to teach us about freedom and oppression in our world today.

In the Name of God: The Possibility of Passion and Tolerance (Parshat Vaera, Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Rabbi Herzl Hefter | Posted 03.15.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Herzl Hefter

R. Simcha Bunim of Przysucha (1765-1827), one of the great Hasidic masters in Poland, explained it by breaking it into two parts. The letter shin is a prefix meaning "that", and "dai" means "enough". She dai would mean, "that [which] is sufficient."

The Plague of Survivalism (Parshat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein | Posted 02.22.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein

In the Torah portion for this week (Vayigash), Joseph, having grown in power and influence in Egypt after his brothers left him for dead in the desert many years before, now reveals his true identity to his assembled siblings.

A Hanukkah 'Raga': An Ecological Reflection

Laura Bellows | Posted 02.18.2015 | Religion
Laura Bellows

Rabbi Katy Allen teaches that Hanukkah is a time to rededicate ourselves to the holy and hard work of responding to climate change. She writes that we "increase our holiness by rededicating ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint."

The Power of the Powerless (Parshat Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Rabbi Toba Spitzer | Posted 02.08.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Reading Tamar's story in light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, as thousands of people take to the streets to demand changes in our justice system, the Torah poses to us today this question: What happens when those in power fail to acknowledge their errors?

'I and I' (Parshat Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:42)

Stephen Hazan Arnoff | Posted 02.02.2015 | Religion
Stephen Hazan Arnoff

Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after his twin brother Esau; in adulthood, with his mother's help, he tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for the firstborn.

The Long Journey of Cultivating Gratitude (Parshat Vayetze, Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Judith Rosenbaum | Posted 01.25.2015 | Religion
Judith Rosenbaum

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving -- which for many of us is less about gratitude and more about consumption, consumerism and perhaps some family discord. Dedicating time to be grateful is hard; American culture doesn't help us much.

Honoring the Past by Looking Forward (Parshat Chayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick | Posted 01.12.2015 | Religion
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick

Reading this week's Torah reading is almost physically painful. The parasha (Torah reading) -- named after "Sarah's life," but beginning with her death -- begins with the elaborately described process of Abraham's acquiring a burial place for his wife.

Resting Beneath the Tree (Parshat Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24)

Ariel Mayse | Posted 01.04.2015 | Religion
Ariel Mayse

The Maggid would ask us to apply this way of thinking to the world around us as well, and to our own lives. His teaching calls us to examine even seemingly ordinary moments, and to sense how holiness and The Divine dwell within them.

Wandering and Welcoming (Lech Lecha -- Genesis 12:1-17:27)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld | Posted 12.28.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

As descendants of Abraham and Sarah, both wanderers and welcomers, may our individual and communal homes be open to strangers, and may our hearts be open to the possibilities that strangeness can awaken within us -- wherever we go, wherever we find ourselves.

'We Are All Noah Now' (Noah, Genesis 6:9-11:32)

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman | Posted 12.21.2014 | Religion
Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

In order for there to be a second Creation, the first one is undone: The skies darken to hide the light, the waters come together to cover the land, the plants and animals -- except for those lucky enough to be on the ark -- perish.

Others, Brothers

Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D. | Posted 12.15.2014 | Religion
Jeremy Benstein, Ph.D.

We have parents, spouses, teachers, critics, publicists and therapists. And most important, we have each other, to be supportively critical, and to help us ask ourselves the really hard and thus the really important questions.